<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
The following list of Ten Mistakes to Avoid in thesis writing comes from ten years of experience in teaching thesis writing to graduate students in science and engineering at Rice University. The list is certainly applicable to thesis writers at other schools, however, and would also be helpful to those writing in other fields. Author: Dr. Janice L. Hewitt, Rice University

Not clearly identifying the precise focus of your research.

Too often writers fail to identify the focus of their research until several pages into the Introduction. Readers need to know up front, in the Abstract and in the Introduction, precisely what problem you are addressing and why. You must state a claim that summarizes what you identified as needing to be done and what you did to fill that need.

Not telling us why your work is important.

Why should any reader care about your research contribution? You must answer the question,“So what?”

Not clearly identifying and defending your choice of method(s) to solve the question addressed in your research.

You almost always have a choice of methods. Why did you choose the one(s) you did? Why not other available ones? You must justify your choice.

Not situating your work within the context of other work in the field.

All research in science and engineering is incremental, growing out of the research of others. You need to show how your work fits into closely related research and into the wider field. How does your research grow out of, improve, generalize, test, or newly implement the work of others?

Not clearly differentiating your work from that of others.

I have read many Literature Reviews in which it was not clear what had been done by others and what the student had contributed. Writing“It has been discovered that…”does not indicate that you have moved from discussing others’work to reporting on your own research. As we read a Literature Review, it should always be clear how your work links with the work of others, but it should also always be clear exactly which portions refer to your own research findings.

Not defining and defending all assumptions.

Every time you write“I assume…”you must defend and explain the reason for the assumption. If your basic assumptions are incorrect, your research will not be valid. Similarly, if you write that you limit your work to one aspect of a problem (to 1D simulations, for example), you must explain why that limitation is valid.

Not providing a suitable level of detail and explanation.

As you write the body chapters, remember that you now know more about this area of research than anybody else. I have never had a student’s advisor complain that the explanations were too clear; I have had many who complained that the writer assumed too much expert knowledge on the part of the reader. Think carefully about what terms, procedures, and results need to be explained. Identify and include steps that you might have left out because you were so familiar with them. Give enough detail about experiments so that they could be replicated. Use bulleted lists for easy reading. Put non-essential data and computer code into an Appendix.

Not clearly identifying your unique contribution(s).

Your unique contribution must be clear in the Abstract, the Introduction, and the Discussion/Conclusions section. Work hard on this—many a Job Talk has failed because the speaker failed to identify clearly and precisely his or her contribution to the field. And don’t say“we.”Give your advisor credit, but present the thesis or dissertation as your work. Your advisor already has a degree and a job.

Not identifying possible applications, either theoretical or practical.

You need to show that you know how your work can be applied in wider circumstances. Otherwise it may look as if your knowledge is more limited than it is. Colleges, universities, and corporations hire those who bring broad skill sets to a job, not those who appear limited to one narrow application.

Not proofreading for consistent headings, missing citations, gaps in your logic, missing words, grammatical errors, and spelling errors.

Ask someone to help you with proofreading because we all tend to see what we think is there. Don’t try to proofread for everything at the same time. Read through looking just at headings, then for errors in citation, then for gaps between paragraphs and sentences. If you have a manuscript full of errors, readers will tend to think that your research has also been poorly done.

Questions & Answers

what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
Damian
yes that's correct
Professor
I think
Professor
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
Rafiq
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
Damian
How we are making nano material?
LITNING Reply
what is a peer
LITNING Reply
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
LITNING Reply
What is STMs full form?
LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
Sahil
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Santosh
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
Mahi
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
Bob
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
brayan
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Damian
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
sciencedirect big data base
Ernesto
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
Daniel
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Good
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
Jobilize.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Becoming a professional scholar. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10871/1.2
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Becoming a professional scholar' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask